OUCC Proceedings 6 (1974)

Torca Los Corniceros

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OUCC Proceedings 6 Contents

John Forder

Grid Ref. 5065 9739

In the course of their perambulations on the summit of the Sierra, Francis Sanders and Peter Urben came across a shepherd who promised them a pothole with a surface shaft of 'mas de cien metros'. Despite their scepticism, they followed their guide to the edge of a large, treelined, and sloping shakehole. Unable to get to the edge to verity the reported depth, they resorted to the time honoured method of depth divining which is a possible explanation for the high proportion of blocked shafts in this area. Their scepticism slowly evaporated as rocks went crashing down for several seconds.

Two days later, a party returned to the hole with a mountain of tackle. Believing the original estimate of 75 metres with ledges, 80 metres of ladder were lowered and the unfortunate writer secured himself firmly to the lifeline. It soon became apparent that the depth had been underestimated, though it was only it a depth of 4.0 metres that this was confirmed. More ladder was attached and the author descended once more, to discover that he could only get to within 10 metres of the bottom. Fortunately, a stray ladder was discovered, but by this stage it was thought that a fresh climber was needed. Simon got his chance. He managed to get off the ladder at -109 metres, closely followed by Neil, and John who was not to be cheated.

After the first 10 metres , in which one has to negotiate trees and bushes whilst on the ladder, the shaft provided a magnificent free- hanging pitch for the rest of the descent. The walls were shiny, black and smooth. The ledges were non-existent; presumably the depth diviners had ricocheted off the walls. A waterfall, emerging from one side of the elliptical shaft (@ 20 metres by 10) about 25 metres from the bottom, added to the spectacle, happily without affecting the climb.

The water sank immediately into the scree which totally blocked the way down. However, two metres above the floor at its lowest point, there was a tube which was extremely narrow but producing a draught. The smallest member of the trio was inserted into this tube - and stuck after a short distance. Retreating to remove a pullover, helmet and light, he tried again, feet first, only to find that a few metres on the passage narrowed to boot width. In view of the fact that a stream could be heard running below, this was a particularly frustrating end to a very spectacular pitch.

In theory, this hole still has potential. The stream, in dry weather, was certainly in the order of 1 cfps, and if it does not go downstream, could be worth maypoling or pegging up to, in order to look at the hole from which the water issues. One does have the unpleasant vision of climbing the mountain with a ton of gear, only to have a repeat performance on a lesser scale of the assault on a certain pothole in the Middle Fast.